Sweet

‘Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams’ – Jenny Colgan

4-star-rating

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop of Dreams - Jenny Colgan

‘Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams’ – Jenny Colgan

Were you a sherbet lemon or chocolate lime fan? Penny chews or hard boiled sweeties (you do get more for your money that way)? The jangle of your pocket money …the rustle of the pink and green striped paper bag …Rosie Hopkins thinks leaving her busy London life, and her boyfriend Gerard, to sort out her elderly Aunt Lilian’s sweetshop in a small country village is going to be dull. Boy, is she wrong. Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton’s sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. As she struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to settle up, she also wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully coloured sweets. Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams – a novel – with recipes.

In a similar vein to Colgan’s other novel that I have read, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Rosie Hopkins follows our heroine, Rosie, as she goes about trying to sort out the sweet shop her Aunt Lilian has long since abandoned through old age. A typical chick flick, you can expect to read of stunning suitors and stereotypical “country bums” as Rosie begins to discover that life in the countryside isn’t as bad as she initially thought it to be.

What I liked the most about this was reading about Rosie’s journey, not only her shenanigans in the tiny village, but how she changes within herself. It is blindingly obvious that her London boyfriend, Gerard, is not “the one” and, in my opinion, it took Rosie far too long to realise that. Gerard is, in essence, a lazy man looking for a mother replacement. I question why Colgan let him linger for so long in the story and feel that his departure could have easily been swiftly told.

That being said, I found it difficult to identify who Rosie would settle down with. There are several candidates up for offering, but Colgan cleverly keeps you guessing: gradually striking out the different potential suitors along the way. This was a surprise for me as I consider such “chick flicks” to be more predictable – well done, Colgan.

Just like The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, we not only follow Rosie’s story, but discover Lilian’s past. I found this endearing and heart-warming, especially considering how Rosie’s path begins to echo that of her Aunt’s. It was a sad and regretful tale, which made me want Rosie to make the right choices, particularly as the story reached its finale.

If you are expecting a funny, girlie novel, then you will be disappointed. True, this is a pretty good read, but I did not find it funny – definitely not on a par with Sophie Kinsella. There were some parts that offered a slight chuckle, but that was about it. Indeed, about two thirds of the way through, I felt Rosie Hopkins start to become a bit lack lustre and lose its pace. Colgan makes up for it in the final few chapters, as the ending tidily reaches its conclusion. There is a sequel to this story that I intend to read, and hope that the next instalment has enough bite to keep me entertained.

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Predictable

‘I Heart New York’ – Lindsey Kelk

2-star-rating-1

I Heart New York - Lindsey Kelk

I Heart New York – Lindsey Kelk

Get ready to meet Angela Clark as she flees the world’s worst wedding for a new life…

It’s official. Angela Clarke is in love – with the most fabulous city in the world.

Fleeing her cheating boyfriend and clutching little more than a crumpled bridesmaid dress, a pair of Louboutins and her passport, Angela jumps on a plane, destination – NYC.

Holed up in a cute hotel room, Angela gets a New York makeover from her NBF Jenny and a whirlwind tour of the city that never sleeps. Before she knows it, Angela is dating two sexy guys. And, best of all, she gets to write about it in her new blog (Carrie Bradshaw eat your heart out). But it’s one thing telling readers about your romantic dilemmas, it’s another figuring them out for yourself …

Angela has fallen head over heels for the big apple, but does she heart New York more than home?

So when Angela runs away to New York after catching her fiancé cheating on her, never would I have imagined she would re-bound so quickly and so deeply. Sleeping with two guys, who are polar opposites of each other, ‘I Heart New York’ follows Angela trying to rediscover who she really is.

I was really surprised at how effortlessly Angela happily strung along two guys. It made me dislike this part of her character as she feels no remorse for her actions. Then, when she starts writing a blog for ‘The Look’ magazine about her antics, I could spot a mile off what the outcome would be. Despite their flaws, I did come to like Taylor and Alex, the unfortunates who Angela is seeing. True they are clichéd opposites, but I did enjoy reading how differently they wooed Angela.

The climax to the story was predictable and I felt like I was waiting for it to happen. But what did keep me guessing is what Angela eventually decides to do and it is not until the Epilogue that her fate is revealed. This helped revive the story for me and kept me interested, so I guess this is one of the strong things ‘I Heart New York’ has going for it.

This is a chick-flick book but I have definitely read better. There was so much scope the writer could have used with this scenario but once it is agreed that Angela’s blog would be published, it is very easy to spot her downfall. If I have the chance to read other books by Lindsey Kelk, I hope it is better than this one.

The traumas of being a celebrity

‘Spiral’ – Jacqueline Levine

3-star-rating

Spiral - Jacqueline Levine

Spiral – Jacqueline Levine

Still adjusting to life with his new stepfamily, complete with annoying twin sisters, seventeen-year-old Jack Hansen thought his Christmas Eve dinner couldn’t get any more complicated – until celebutante Cherie Belle walks into the room. The niece of Jack’s new stepfather, Jack had no idea the young starlet was even in the family. But his initial excitement quickly fades when the teen queen ruins dinner, humiliates his little brother, and storms out, leaving the blame for the night’s demise to fall squarely on Jack’s shoulders. 

But then tragedy strikes for America’s tabloid princess, and Jack and his family are all Cherie has left. Suddenly, Jack finds himself riding the roller coaster that is Cherie Belle’s life: fending off the paparazzi, moving to California, and being cast in the tabloids as her new boyfriend. That part would be fine if it were true. Instead, Jack missteps onto Cherie’s bad side and becomes the target of her diva mood swings and mean-spirited pranks, as she goes to ridiculous lengths to make his life miserable.

Just when Jack is through playing nice, his life turned upside down, Cherie shows up drunk and sobbing, revealing she is far from over her parents’ deaths. He realizes she’s giving the public exactly what it wants: an epic fall from grace. Jack knows he should tell someone that Cherie is spiraling out of control. But once Jack begins to care about Cherie, it becomes harder to keep her secrets; especially when Jack becomes her biggest secret of all.

Goodreads

About the author:

Jacqueline Levine

Jacqueline Levine

Born and raised in New York, Jacqueline Levine is a new Indie author on the block. After seven years in the classroom, she decided to turn a play written for an after-school drama class into a full-length novel. Her experience teaching and mentoring young teens, combined with a guilty pleasure of reading celebrity news, inspired the themes and many of the scenes in the tale of a starlet’s fall from grace and the small-town boy who is doing everything in his power not to fall for her. After a year of hard work and editing, she self-published Spiral in August of 2013, and it is one of her greatest accomplishments.

Author links:

Facebook / Twitter / Web

Review:

‘Spiral’ by Jacqueline Levine follows two teenagers, Cherie and Jack, as they find themselves thrown together by tragedy. But with Cherie’s stardom and Jack’s troubled, angry past, the relationship is not a straight-forward boy-meets-girl and the two find themselves at the mercy of the media, in particular ‘Dirterazzi’. And if that wasn’t enough, the two are also having to adjust to Cherie’s guardians being Jack’s mum and step-dad… so they are having to live together in her glamorous Hollywood mansion.

Throughout the story we are given news stories from Dirterazzi, providing a glimpse into the media circus reporting on Cherie and Jack. I liked the tone of these pieces – you could really imagine these being on a gossip site and reflected the frenzy that you so often see today with celebrities. Shortly after Cherie’s parents are killed, Jack is under strict instructions not to visit such gossip sites because of the “news” that is reported. This is great, until there is a showdown between Jack, Cherie and his family/adopted sisters and suddenly it feels as if all of the characters are believing the news reports. I found this quite frustrating as it felt like Jack did not have a chance to defend his actions until the final scenes and left me wondering why his family suddenly believed such gossip sites.

It was frustrations like this that made me get a little bored with the narrative. After a while it was clear where the plot was going and whilst I did not predict the final scenes, found that the story lost a little substance half way through. With Cherie going “off the rails”, her behaviour and Jack’s reactions were typical of her trying to make Jack feel jealous. And it always worked. That being said, it was cute to read how Jack and Cherie finally do overcome their feelings and realise that, distractions and interferences aside, they genuinely want to be together. Indeed, the ending came across as quite conclusive so I was surprised to learn that there is another book in the series. I’d definitely be keen to know what happens next to Jack and Cherie – can they overcome the pressures of being in the spotlight?

In this novel, Levine does not make much of Jack’s siblings. He is part of an extended family and although some background is given to his troubled past and why his dad left them, I think it would have been great if the author had given Jack’s siblings a bit more of a spotlight in the story, such as how they adjusted to moving to Hollywood, or having a famous celebrity living with them. True, the twins become Cherie’s accomplices against Jack, but I think giving some insight into the family tensions that are implied throughout the story would have added more dimension to the plot.

This is an easy read and a cute romance novel. Whilst I did find it a little predictable, I wanted Jack and Cherie to find happiness. Levine does something different with ‘Dirterazzi’ and I liked the change in narrative voice throughout. Although everything seems to “come good” at the end, I am curious to know what the second in the series has to offer.

This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Excerpt from the novel:

Cherie had faded in and out the entire time we shopped, so I don’t pay attention to her. I don’t follow her gaze, and instead I proceed to pay the cashier. Britney asks to carry the grocery bag, and I fiddle with her coat to make sure it’s zipped. We’re immersed in our own worlds, our normal routines. I wish that for just a second I had noticed the growing media storm outside.

Because when we emerge from the supermarket, we are swarmed by humans with cameras for heads. There are all types – fans holding up cellphones, professional photographers, and news reporters with video cameras and microphones that they immediately thrust in her face.

“Cherie! Cherie how are you?”

“We love you Cherie!”

“We’re praying for you, Cherie!”

“Stop wearing furs! Do you know how many defenseless animals are killed for your stupid fur coats?”

“Cherie, will you still be hosting the New Year’s Ball with Caz?”

My head is spinning. We take a step left, and they step in our path. We swerve right, and there they are again, blocking our path. I look down at Cherie, who keeps her sunglasses down to hide her eyes. I can tell by her stiff, unsmiling mouth that she is unnerved. Her head hangs low, her shoulders curve inward, and she tucks her arms against her body. She is shrinking inside of herself.

But they don’t seem to notice. Or care.

“Cherie, are you going back to work on Choc it Up?”

“Cherie, is it true you were drinking at a nightclub the evening your parents died?”

“Cherie, is Jack your new boyfriend?”

Britney cries out, “Jackie!” before I have a chance to digest that last question. I look down and see she is engulfed by the photographers.

I’ve tried to keep my cool up until now, but these people have crossed a line. Frustrated, I command, “Move!” They part immediately. I lean down and hoist my sister up in one arm. I reach out with my free hand and grab Cherie’s. Gritting my teeth, I lower my head and plow through the crowd like we’re one yard short of a first down, and I have been given the ball. Surprisingly, they get out of my way.

But it doesn’t stop the questions.

“Jack – Jack, are you and Cherie dating?”

“Cherie, how does it feel to be an orphan? Can you give us a statement?”

The barking continues to swirl and swim around my head as we walk hastily forward. I do my best to tune them out and protect the girls. They both look like they’re about to cry, and I’m not sure who needs more shielding. I quickly deposit Cherie into the front seat.

“Buckle Britney in when I put her in the car seat,” I command, and she nods. I swing around to my side and drop Britney, who has started to cry from all of the commotion, into the back. It’s the first time I have ever set her down in the car without checking that she was safely buckled, but I trust Cherie to take care of it. I jump inside, start the engine, and throw the stick shift into reverse.

The cameras are everywhere. I honk my horn and gesture for them to move. I can get in trouble if I hit someone, and I would definitely lose my license. Frustrated, I shout, “Get out of the way!” I’m almost ready to hit someone anyway. They seem to sense I’ve reached my limit of patience and start to back away from my bumpers.

“Thank you! Geez! How the hell did all those people know we were there?” I mutter, more to myself than to Cherie. “Only two guys were outside when we first got there!”

“Those two guys tell two guys, and pretty soon you have a gaggle of them at your door,” she replies.

I’m baffled. “Tell me that this is not every day of your life.”

She shakes her head. “It wasn’t this bad before.”

                                                                        * * *

DIRTERAZZI.COM

CHERIE BELLE LOVE AFFAIR: REAL LIFE ROMANTIC COMEDY

Celebrities really are just like the rest of us: they trip, they fall, and they are caught in midair by a handsome prince charming that can’t tear his eyes off of…um…yeah, keep dreaming folks. That kind of stuff only happens to princesses, and celebutante Cherie Belle!

Cherie Belle stepped out yesterday for the first time since the funeral for her parents, who were killed in an automobile accident on Christmas Eve. Escorted by her new family member/possible love interest/arm candy, Jack Hansen, Cherie made her way to a local grocery store in upstate New York. Following our last report about Cherie’s dwindling waist size, we’re not really sure she’s going to eat the food she was buying, but that’s another story.

Our reporter on the scene claims the moment between Hansen and Belle, pictured above, was the kind of stuff romantic comedies are made of as Cherie, who was sporting her signature high heels, suddenly tripped and soared toward the ground. In a blur, Hansen, the 6’2” tight end (ahem, get your mind out of the gutter, ladies, it’s a position he plays for his high school football team) thrust his arm out and caught the teetering Belle just in time. Then, they stared into each other’s eyes, forgetting everything and everyone existed, even Hansen’s five year old sister. All these love-struck kids needed was a little Maroon 5 ballad playing in the background and some rain to make it a magical movie moment.

Cherie’s reps are keeping mum about Hansen’s relationship to their client, insisting he’s just a nice kid who is trying to help Belle for the short time she is in his hometown, and they want to emphasize the word short. No decision has been made yet about whether or not Cherie’s grandparents will be her permanent guardians, but Cherie isn’t letting an uncertain future keep her from fulfilling her duties as a star of the upcoming flick, “This Side of Sunny.” Cherie will be on the first flight back to Hollywood after she and Caz Farrell perform in Times Square for the Kidz Channel’s New Year’s Special. According to Carl Schwartz, Cherie will promptly begin touring and giving interviews to promote the movie.

From the looks of this picture, however, Jack Hansen isn’t letting Cherie out of his sight too easily. Even though she plans to perform with Caz Farrell on New Year’s Eve, one question still remains: Who will Cherie kiss when the ball drops?

Click here to get yourself a copy of the novel, only $0.99 during the virtual book tour!

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To follow the tour of ‘Spiral’ by Jacqueline Levine, please click here.

Baking love!

‘My Cup of Tea’ – Kat Leiu

5-star-rating

My Cup of Tea - Kat Lieu

My Cup of Tea – Kat Lieu

It’s another suck-tastic summer for book nerd and baker, Sara Lee-Affen. She’s broke, she’s single, and she’ll probably die a virgin. At her beautiful cousin’s wedding, Sara meets a sexy and delicious stud muffin, Ian Forrests. He’s totally her cup of tea, that is until he laughs at her misery when a bee burrows into her ear. Yes, a dang bee. She’s dying (well not really) as he’s dying from laughter.

What a jerk. A smoking hot, Adonis of a jerk with strikingly green eyes, dark hair, and drool-worthy pecs and eight-pack abs. As luck and fate would have it, Sara keeps bumping into Ian all summer long and ends up working for him as a pastry chef at his failing bakery. Despite her better judgement, Sara falls for the sexy, bad-ass rich boy. She discovers the truth about Ian: he’s a tortured soul who’s still pining for his deceased girlfriend, Sarah. One look at Sarah’s picture and poor Sara knows that she could never compete. She could never be Ian’s cup of tea. 

Or could she? 

Goodreads

About the author:

Kat Lieu

Kat Lieu

Kat read her first book (a picture book) while potty training at the age of one and half. Reading became an addiction and a must during subsequent potty sessions. Writing as a passion soon followed when Kat was in the fifth grade. She drew a picture storybook, hand-stitched the pages together, and presented it to a class of second graders. The children loved hearing Kat’s story and that cemented Kat’s love for writing.

Kat wrote ‘My Cup of Tea, Summer of Love’ during maternity leave. While caring for her newborn, Kat sacrificed nap time and much needed rest in order to write. When her baby slept, she quickly typed away, ignoring carpal tunnel. Now Kat works full-time by day. By night, she’s a dedicated mommy and a writer. She hopes to be able to spend more time with her son, Philly Cheese Steak, and write for a living in the near future.

Dreams do come true, when you believe in them and work hard. Many of Kat’s dreams have come true and she wishes the same for all her fans and readers.

Kat is also a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. She also runs a tween/teen empire, Nummyz Productions. Nummyz Productions creates original Flash games for girls and provides them with a safe community, love advice, free stories, and support. Nummyz Productions publishes books and e-books. Kat’s company has also created websites for celebrities of The Young and the Restless (Kate Linder) and Flash games for multi-million dollar company LittleMissMatched.

Author links:

Facebook / Twitter / Web / Goodreads / Amazon

‘Maid for Me’ book trailer

Review:

So… this review might be slightly biased because this novella by Kat Lieu has two of my favourite things: an innocent ‘girl meets boy’ love story and baking/running a bakery. This is my own personal dream and I loved how this featured in the story.

‘My Cup of Tea’ is an easy-going romance with the added sweetness of desserts. The love story between Sara and Ian is a little predictable but I think this just added to my enjoyment of the story.  However,  Lieu does do something different to her contemporaries by switching the first person narrative between Sara and Ian each chapter. It was sweet to see how their feelings towards one another develop and even more so the fact that they had such similar opinions without realising it.

What did surprise me was how young Sara is. At 18, I guess I was expecting to read a romance about a girl who is slightly older,  but then I guess Lieu here is trying to appeal to a younger audience. Another surprise for me was how much I enjoyed this novella. I have not had much luck with novellas in the past and whilst this was a quick read, it felt “just right”. What I mean by that is the characters or plot didn’t need more development,  so it didn’t come across as rushed.  I didn’t feel bored reading it and actually felt quite sad when I got to the end! That being said, I am reluctant to consider this as a ‘comedy’ because I didn’t find any of the plot funny but more of a piece of young romance fiction.

The tension that exists between Sara and Ian were unusual. With Ian’s dead ex-girlfriend also called Sarah (note the added “h”) and whom the bakery was started by, his difficulty in moving on made me feel quite sorry for Sara, particularly with the closing scene. It is as if there are three people in the relationship and readers are left wondering how Ian can move on. Whilst Sara does try her best to remain detached from Ian, circumstances throw them together and despite his hang-ups, left me wanting to see them have a happy ending. However, as this is the first part of the story, we are left not knowing what happens with their relationship.

As an avid baker,  I really enjoyed the glimpses Lieu provided to the desserts made at the bakery. Whether intentional or not,  I felt really inspired to whip up Sara’s cakes in the kitchen and I think it is a shame Lieu did not provide the recipes at the end of the story. Still,  even I know you can’t have it all!

I really enjoyed this novella and am keen to read the follow-up story.  It is a sweet love story and I was left hoping Sara would not be taken for a ride. I really hope I get the opportunity to review ‘My Cup of Tea,  too’.

This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway:

The writer, Kat Lieu, is giving away four eBook copies of ‘Maid for Me’ and one print copy at each stop of her blog tour. This give-away is open to USA residents only. Make sure to follow the tour and enter at every stop by leaving a comment with a valid email address. Winners will be randomly selected by the author after the tour is over!

Excerpt from the novel:

A minute ago, when I noticed someone approaching me, I couldn’t help but ogle at perfectly-formed man pecs and a tapered waist sporting well-defined washboard abs. Droplets of water glisten on his tan skin. Said tan skin belongs to a guy, a hot guy walking toward me. Water from the pool drips off his dark hair. His lean and muscular legs are made for running. His blue swim trunks, wet and plastered to his skin, leaves little to my imagination. I gulped. I felt his eyes on me, all hot and smoldering. Having a feeling that a handsome face goes along with his hot bod, my eyes traveled upward to confirm my theory.

Sharp features. Chiseled jawline. Straight nose with two nostrils that are perfectly shaped and sized. Cellophane forest-green eyes filled with intelligence. Hot…

But too bad it’s him, that jerk from Millie’s wedding.

Click the link to get yourself a copy of the novel.

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A deserving happy ending

‘Bridget Jones’s diary’ – Helen Fielding

5-star-rating

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones’s Diary’ follows the fortunes of a single girl on an optimistic but doomed quest for self-improvement. Cheered by feminist ranting with her friends Jude. Shazzer and ‘hag-fag’ Tom, humiliated at Smug Marrieds’ dinner parties, crazed by parental attempts to fix her up with a rich divorcee in a diamond-patterned sweater, Bridget lurches from torrid affair to pregnancy-scare convinced that if she could just get down to 8st 7, stop smoking and develop Inner Poise, all would be resolved.

I think it is always tricky to read a book when there is such a successful film adaptation and I have to admit, I always pictured the actors who played the characters from the film. That being said, if you have seen the film then I urge you not to by-pass this book because it is quite different, with more escapades from Bridget.

I love how Helen Fielding has drawn so many parallels with Austen’s Mr Darcy and her own Mark Darcy. Right from the start I was rooting for Bridget to move on from Daniel Cleaver and find her love for Mark, and desperately wanted her to realise how much of a bad boy Cleaver really is! You know that Mark is really Bridget’s knight in shining armour but I do think that there was opportunity for Fielding to go into more detail about why Mark and Daniel don’t like each other (yes, like in the film).

There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, such as the diary entry where Bridget is desperately trying to program her video player. You can’t help but laugh at Bridget and her misfortunes, and Fielding has created a loveable character that I think all readers can relate to. So much so, I really wanted to give Bridget a big hug, particularly when she wrote about how down she was feeling.

This is a really good book to read and I am keen to read more books by Helen Fielding. Charming and witty, Bridget Jones has many character traits that can be seen in all of us and I think this is why the book has such timeless humour. It might have been first published in 1996, but there is still so much that Fielding’s readers can relate to.

Sweet but steamy

‘Big Girl Panties’ – Stephanie Evanovich

4-star-rating

Big Girl Panties - Stephanie Evanovich

Big Girl Panties – Stephanie Evanovich

In ‘Big Girl Panties’, Evanovich introduces readers to Holly Brennan—a 32-year old grieving widow in need of a change. Having spent too much time mired in sadness and grief-eating, Holly heads out of town to settle her husband’s estate and try to move on. Enter Logan Montgomery—a personal trainer to the country’s most famous professional athletes who also happens to be sitting next to her on the flight home. 

Holly’s mortified by the way she’s squeezed into the air-plane seat, but as they chat, Logan quickly realizes she has a sharp wit and keen insight—a welcome change from the sexy but superficial women he usually dates. When he impulsively offers to train her at his private gym, Holly surprises even herself and agrees. 

Holly discovers she’s a natural athlete, and as her fitness level increases, so does a new found confidence. When Logan finally introduces Holly to his best friends, baseball superstar Chase Walker and his wife Amanda (a feisty curvy woman herself), they instantly see what Logan doesn’t; Holly is knock-out. As their smouldering attraction starts to spark in earnest, Holly and Logan will have to decide if their love is for real…or just about looks. 

‘Big Girl Panties’ is a fun, sexy, smart, and exceptionally saucy romp—a must-have book for the summer and a début not to be missed.  

About the author:

Stephanie Evanovich

Stephanie Evanovich

Stephanie Evanovich is a full-fledged Jersey girl from Asbury Park who began writing fiction while waiting for her cues during countless community theatre projects. She attended New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts and acted in several improvisational troupes and a few small-budget movies, all in preparation for the greatest job she ever had, raising her two sons. Now a full-time writer, she’s an avid sports fan who holds a black belt in tae kwon do.

 Author Links:
Review:

Evanovich’s debut novel is one that shows how relationships can change over time and that true love is about the person as a whole,  “warts and all”. And whilst there is the ever-present cliché of the ugly duckling turning into a beautiful swan,  I certainly think this was relevant to both Holly and Logan.

When we are first introduced to Logan, I really wasn’t sure what to make of him. His ego and self-centred being represented everything I despised in such stereotypical characters and this was only solidified further by the early sex scene with his current trophy girlfriend,  Natalie.  As such,  I found myself rooting for Holly,  keen to see her holding her own and proving to Logan just what she is capable of. Yet, as the story progressed and I learned more about Holly, I felt sorry for her and wanted to see herself breaking free from the walls she had built up around herself. The metamorphosis that both Holly and Logan undergo is sweet, leaving you hoping that they will come together.   Indeed, by the final scenes of the novel, I wanted them to find happiness and overcome the demons that had stopped them from truly being together. Both Holly and Logan grow to understand what love means to them and whilst Holly undergoes a physical transformation through Logan’s training, his comes from within,  leaving me feeling that he does become quite a charming hero in the end.

That being said, there are quite a few steamy and graphic sex scenes in this story. I don’t think I was quite prepared for this and think that Evanovich could have written these parts in less graphically. Yes, I wanted Holly to be happy and achieve that feeling of freedom,  but I didn’t want to read about it in such detail.  I think this is what stopped me giving the book a full five star rating,  although if you are not someone who easily blushes then you certainly won’t find this aspect off-putting.

This is a sweet novel with a lovely ending. Although Holly has such personal hang ups, I liked reading about her determination to make a difference. Yes, her total lack of individualism when falling for Logan was a little irritating with the way she seemed to completely shape herself to his personality, but this did change as she came to value herself more as a person. So, if you enjoy romance fiction with a bit of difference,  then I would recommend this for you.

Click the links below to get yourself a copy of this novel:

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To follow the tour of ‘Big Girl Panties’ by Stephanie Evanovich, please click here.

Awkward and predictable humour

‘The Debt and the Doormat’ – Laura Barnard

1-star-rating (1)

Image courtesy of goodreads.com

The Debt and the Doormat – Laura Barnard

Poppy and Jazz have been best friends from the first week of uni. Whenever these two get together trouble isn’t far away and things haven’t changed much. When Jazz gets herself into financial trouble Poppy, being a good friend, offers to help. She instead ends up being talked into swapping lives, with Jazz insisting it will be good and help her get over her broken heart. 

Poppy is thrown into a new life, full of crazy house mates; there’s fitness freak Izzy, horrendously beautiful bitch Grace and the slightly gorgeous, if not incredibly grumpy Ryan. Quickly, with the help of Jazz, her life is thrown upside down. Madness ensues and her need to please everyone gets her in more trouble than she could ever imagine. 

Before she knows it she’s got a fake boyfriend and is hiding so many secrets she’s scared they’ll spill out any minute. With a bullying boss, a sex crazed colleague, a mental mother and three brothers each with their own dramas, life has gotten pretty difficult for Poppy. And all of this would be much easier, if she could just stop falling over. 

Will she get her life back to normal before her brother’s upcoming wedding? And will she want to?

The blurb gives so much promise and follows the “rules” of a typical chick flick novel. But instead, you are presented with a predictable storyline and humour that just makes you cringe and feel quite awkward. It felt like I was watching a comedy film – you can see where and when the punch line is coming and when it does, you end up feeling sorry for the characters involved, rather than laughing at the predicament.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an easy read to get in to and you want Poppy to finally sort herself out by the end of the novel (if nothing else, just to relieve that never-ending awkwardness that is prevalent throughout the story). The predicaments she finds herself in are quite lame and unbelievable; it made me question how Barnard was inspired to write this because it becomes quite far-fetched. For example, Poppy tells her mother that she is pregnant in order to escape meeting a pretend boyfriend in the city (they actually end up visiting this poor random bloke’s office and the situation is quite cringe-making), and this is still circling the gossip mill at the end of the story. Each time I wanted Poppy to have the balls to stand up to her unbearably controlling mother and just get on with life. Seriously, how could anyone manage to get themselves in the situations she finds herself in?

Another irritation for this story is that whilst it starts out with Poppy and her best friend, Jazz, swapping lives (clothes, way of living and where they live), this just seems to continue in the story, even though it is evident that this life swap has clearly got out of control. Fuelled, it seems, by going out every night to get drunk, I wonder just how far Barnard’s readers can relate to this. Again, surely common sense and self-belief would prevent anyone from acting in the way that Poppy does?

Perhaps I have missed the point of this novel and taken it far too seriously. Trust me, I could definitely see where Barnard was trying to go with this story but it really didn’t pull me in. The attempts at humour seem reminiscent of Sophie Kinsella and it is this that brought me to the conclusion that either the writer is trying too hard to create a chick flick novel, or has taken elements from different chick flick novels to combine it into her own… just not very successfully.